Coney Island

Initially, some of you will think I’ve posted this on the wrong page but this isn’t about the amusement park at Coney Island. It’s about the people there and the community they live in. It’s much different than what the rest of America (and the world) believes it to be.

Conga man

This is a post from the archives of my old blog. I decided recently to pull some of the better posts from over there and preserve them here as well. This one, one of my very favorites was originally published without any text in June of 2008.

I have no idea if Humberto is still playing with the band. He moved shortly after this was published and *drat* I lost track of him. He is featured on Hispanic Nashville’s Twitter page and starred in a MUYBNA poster for a while, though is it still called a poster if it’s online? I don’t know. Either way, I hope he got a chance to see and hear it somewhere along the way. Listen below.

Voluntary Tourist

Well, it's CMA week again. Regardless of what anyone tells you about the traffic, it's still fun to be a tourist in Nashville.

Yesterday I was trying to get out of downtown and got stuck behind a car with New Jersey license plates. It reminded me of a moment last year when some random @$$%^#* came screaming up behind me on the New Jersey Turnpike, so close all I could see were his windshield wiper blades. When I didn’t move over (I couldn’t) he rocked the steering wheel side to side, like racers do when they’re warming up their tires, all the while blowing his horn and signing that I was number one. My dog got down in the back floorboard.

I admit I thought about running these Garden staters up onto the sidewalk there at Lafayette. I couldn’t do it though, what with them being new in town and all. Besides, the contrast between that guy on the Turnpike and these people holding up traffic on Fourth Avenue was so laughable I couldn’t even get worked up about it. By the time we got to City Cemetery I imagine they were already looking for corn fields. I hope they aren’t still circling the fairgrounds or anything.

A few more tourist shots – Stella and I must have been living right Saturday. We jaywalked across Broadway right in front of the police station. Once we were out in the middle of the street I noticed one of the patrol cars about to pull away from the curb. I had to make an executive decision to walk in front of him AND keep a straight face. I just remember being told once that they only ticketed the jaywalkers who “weren’t good at it”.
So, there’s your tourist tip of the day. Look both ways. After that, don’t hesitate.

’tis the Season

Bill collectors are calling your Facebook friends now.

It’s true. They believe humiliation motivates people to pay so they’re calling up your friends. They used to call my house and ask for the lady across the street. The first time it happened I said: “She doesn’t live here, she lives across the street.”
As soon as I said it I knew it was the exact thing they were hoping to verify. It’s a miracle that particular conversation didn’t end with my having to buy a new telephone. Now they’re calling my house looking for someone (not you) who lives in an entirely different state and is only linked to me via Facebook. Outstanding.

Speaking of bill collectors, Abdul Abdullah. He has a number of people looking for him too. He used to have the same telephone number as me and I fielded his calls for the first eight years I lived here. Jewelry salesman. I can’t even bring myself to hang up on these people. Is there a darker Hell than to be somewhere in the world sitting in front of a computer trying to track down a man named Abdul Abdullah, Rick Smith, Joe Jones? What are the chances you aren’t going to spend your entire shift being lied to, cursed at, avoided and psychologically soiled?

Thankfully, the bill collectors aren’t after me personally. By the grace of God and occasionally my mother, I’ve managed to avoid them. There is one group however, I can’t seem to get away from. They are the predatory lenders. No longer lurking in the shadows, they shower me with praise. As if. Last week alone I pre-qualified for two banks and three department stores. Visa, whom I already have a relationship with, sent word (conveniently right before Christmas) that Lowe’s and Williams-Sonoma, along with GE Capital Retail Bank as it is partnered with Walmart, would all be so pleased if I would just sign the enclosed Pre-Approved credit card application (good through December 26th) and allow them to extend their helping hand this holiday season. One even offered to give me a ten percent discount on my first purchase.
Ten percent. What’s the word? Par-tay.

ARE YOU PEOPLE KIDDING ME WITH THIS?

If the ninety-nine percent were truly organized, they’d cut up their credit cards and let you people have a few weeks to think about your next move. I don’t mean to imply that everyone has a credit card. The ones who don’t – or who choose not to, are way ahead of the game in my book. The Boston Globe did an investigative piece in 2006 called Debtor’s Hell that is (unfortunately) still relevant in many ways today. It should be required reading.

Debtor’s Hell